The Defiance of Joy

memorial_day_2013

It isn’t popular to challenge a fellow American’s patriotism, especially when the criticism carries a distinct “holier than thou” odor. So I did what I normally try to do in the midst of photo-shopped flag “memorials” and the 300th “Remember/Thank you to our soldiers” post on Facebook, I bit my tongue.

Then I encountered my friend @incslingerSimon’s post,

“Happy Memorial Day” is an oxymoron. Please don’t wish people a Happy day of remembering the dead service personnel in their lives. Thank them for their sacrifice. Mourn their loss but do not turn today into just another day off work where you schlep your family around home improvement, furniture stores or car dealerships looking for bargains and decide you’ve “done your bit” with a happy memorial day facebook post.”

I confess that I and Simon share a similar perspective;

Memorial Day isn’t just another day off work.

Does this mean you shouldn’t celebrate and enjoy the fun and family time? Not at all, but let us also be sure to explain why we have the freedom and privileges that we so often take for granted. To occasionally take our kids to the graves and memorials or to visit with a veteran that hasn’t told some of their stories simply because they haven’t been asked. Hold high the memory of those who have served and given their all.

the Pursuit

Then in the midst of my self-righteousness I remembered these words, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

That last word caught me off guard.

Perhaps a weekend filled with celebration, music, family, water sports, BBQ, and watermelon is a perfect snapshot of the way of life these men and women died to protect. What better way to spite tyranny and oppression than to relish loudly in the sun-baked Americana that is Memorial Day, and strive to do it with thoughtfulness and remembrance.

Perhaps you can raise a flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance with bit more conviction, pray for those families with loved ones serving active duty, or simply say Thank you.

Then go pursue Happiness.

Happy Memorial Day.